Sheryl Lipuma is a member of the National Guard, as is her husband. She’s a proud American and loves serving her country, but she also has another obligation in her life, that to her son. On previous assignments Sheryl had been forced to “pump and dump” her breastmilk, a heartbreaking action for any breastfeeding mother to take. Regulations stipulate that unless women are able to do otherwise, “pumping and dumping” is necessary while out on the field. Sheryl couldn’t bear to dispose of this precious milk, especially given her difficulties with her supply.
Sheryl belongs to a local selling and swapping group on Facebook called “Moms on a Budget – Middlesex County.” In the group are thousands of fellow mothers who, like the name suggests, are on tight budgets. Often women offer to swap old toys and car seats, sometimes for just a few dollars, and women drive to each other to exchange $2 for a toy because buying new would be too difficult. Nevertheless, when Sheryl asked, the response of her fellow mothers was incredibly generous and immediate.
In the eight hours after Sheryl posted at 10pm, when most moms are winding down and shutting off their phones and computers, there were already 80 comments on the post, including over a dozen offers for a free mini-fridge or freezer. Dozens of other comments echo this one: “If I had one or knew someone with one, I would absolutely give it to you, no questions asked… I do hope you find one, stay safe and thank you for serving my country.”
Sheryl kept insisting she was willing to pay, but other moms in the group wouldn’t hear of it, offering what they could out of their tight budgets. Modestly, Sheryl also told her fellow moms who thanked her again and again for her service “Thank u! I’m only national guard tho..” but another mother told her “No matter what part of the military it’s something to be proud of.” Over a dozen women agreed, clicking like on the latter comment.
Serving in the Guard requires Sheryl be away from her son and husband for up to a month at a time (as she was during Hurricane Sandy). Maintaining her breastmilk supply is a struggle, leaving her in dirty bathrooms in order to pump several times a day. It’s a price she’s willing to pay as a mother committed to breastfeeding and as a servicewoman keeping Americans safe close to home.
Comment below: Would you donate an expensive item like a fridge to a serviceman or woman in need?